A Message to the Movement
In the forthcoming piece We would like to point out the particular inter-connectedness of many of the enemy-states’ recent counter-offensive to Our collective progress. When We speak to ‘progress,’ we’re speaking to the strategic goal of establishing a national prison movement - a revolutionary oriented prison movement. A national revolutionary prison movement that is intrinsically connected with a national revolutionary oriented united front on the outside. In this piece We’ll attempt to illuminate to the reader that recent and present ‘security’ and censorship methods enacted by the enemy-state are indeed counter-offensives and are intrinsically inter-connected both outside and inside.
Any conscious observer will readily concede that in recent years, particularly within the prisons across the empire there has been an increase in censorship tactics. In some cases these methods border on extreme.
For all intents and purposes We can understand that the current prison movement took its first primitive steps forward towards nationalization with the hystoric hunger strikes organized in California from 2011-2013. The underlying blueprint for these actions, the Agreement to End Hostilities, showcased the way forward for many around the empire. Furthermore, and what’s harder to measure, is the amount of inspiration that those actions initiated.
We have a small window into this reality, as it has been recorded that prison officials in other states, by the advent of the third and final strike, began pleading with CDCR to settle the issues the comrades in Califas raised, as they had began dealing with similar unrest in their state’s prisons.
Here it may be necessary to pinpoint that the prison movement as We know it today didn’t begin in 2011. Rather there have been other organizations that have connected the functions of prison to the human rights movement. A notable organization is the Human Rights Coalition led by elder BLA and BPP veteran political prisoner/prisoner of war Russel Maroon Shoatz. [Rest in Power, Shoatz died on 17 December 2021, at age 78, less than 2 months after eir release from prison with cancer.] However, beginning with the Califas hunger strikes there was a substantial qualitative leap forward in both participation and interest, inside and outside countrywide.
Moving forward towards the 2016 National Prison strike; the collective action, along with its subsequent 2018 sequel, did wonders in nationalizing the Prison Human rights movement gaining corporate media attention and subsequently grasping the attention of previously uninterested parties. Some of these parties were prison officials, C.O. unions, police unions, and others intrinsically woven into the criminal injustice apparatus. Others were concerned persyns: a new generation of abolitionists began to spring up, usually deriving from the college campus sector. The spokesperson of the national prison strikes, Sis. Amani Sawari, along with imprisoned activists within key organizations like Jailhouse Lawyers Speaks, Free Alabama Movement, and many in Califas helped bring the key “Ten Demands” of the National Prison strike to the mainstream as these issues began to be debated among presidential candidates throughout 2019 and 2020.
Before We move on it is important to pinpoint here that the Prison Human Rights Movement, has had and continues to have much stratification within its ranks. The first and major stratification point derives from differences in political line surrounding the role of the movement.
Similar to the days of the Civil Rights movement, when the question of ‘non-violence’ was seen by some as a philosophical or theological commitment, while for others it was simply a tactic, one to be discarded if/when it proved un-useful. The current prison movement has many of the same components. While there are many more revolutionary oriented groups/persyns who see the success of the prison movement with the advent of voting rights, or other prison reforms. Instead many of these groups agree that prisons can not be reformed, as it is an intrinsic part of the state apparatus. These groups agree that revolutionary consciousness and commitment are the most meaningful things that can come of the prison movement.
Simultaneously, in recent years there has been an upsurge in radical activity on the outside. Much like in the prison movement there are many youthful combatants, and much decentralized activities. The fact that these movements have risen parallel among each other should not be considered a coincidence, nor should the corresponding and parallel counter-offensives be seen as unrelated coincidences.
As BlackLivesMatter and abolitionist praxis protests arose around the country, particularly in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, reactionary lawmakers (persuaded by reactionary constituents) began implementing new repressive laws to quell protest. Federal lawmakers, led by the Trump-Pence duo led the way and most states followed suit. Such laws, or rather counter-offensives, included making the blocking of traffic, as had been done repeatedly in recent years, a first degree felony. In states like Tekkk$a$ that means that such protests would be punishable with sentences of 5-99 years!
Also, in a move to revamp Black Liberation era counter-offensives, federal legislators (followed by various states) felonized crossing state boundaries to partake in protests. Some students of the movement may recall that this measure was first enacted against Imam Jamil Al-Amin, the former H. Rap Brown of SNNC, BPP, and RNA at the apex of the Black Liberation struggle.
These are only a few key examples of the criminalization of radical dissent as it pertains to those on the outside. However, C.O. unions, DOC headquarters, and various reactionaries began their countervailing efforts on radical and revolutionary forces on the inside first.
In the almost immediate aftermath of the 2016 National Prison Strike, DOC’s around the empire all began complaining of the same issue: an illusionary influx of drugs coming through the mail. Reading from the limited research materials i have in my cell, it seems that the counter-offensive attacking prisoner mail under the pretext of a major drug influx began in 2017, and the first states to initiate this offensives were Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Florida. States like Tekkk$a$, initiated a different sort of attack on prisoner correspondence by severely limiting indigent mail in 2015. However, relating to the “influx of drugs” ruse, many other states have since followed suit. Another related component to the attack on prisoner mail is the wide spread switchover to digitized mail services. States have begun denying all physical snail mail and mail that have implemented this repressive tactic have also by and large prevented prisoners from receiving books from “unauthorized” vendors, basically mandating that reading material be sent from a sole approved vendor.
All these measures described above are ‘on trend’ among the various states around the empire, meaning these measures are likely to be making their way to a prison near you. What We’re experiencing now is a proving ground for the state, in which they’ve been observing to see which countervailing measures will stir the masses the most, which ones will survive the initial jailhouse lawyer onslaughts.
Again, it must be understood that the major drug influx cited by (all) these state DOC’s is illusionary. That isn’t to say drugs aren’t in prison, but they’re flowing in the same frequency as prior to 2016 (national prison strike). So why now? Why suddenly the state-to-state focused attack on prisoner correspondence, and the digitizing of mail, only after 2016? The answer points to a New-COINTELPRO type program (NCTP). Part and parcel with this NCTP is the widespread, coordinated countervailing attacks against progressive and revolutionary prisoners. From Califas, Oregon, Nevada to New Mexico, Indiana to Pennsylvania; from Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina to Florida, Alabama to Tekkk$a$, dissident prisoners are under attack. These attacks range from down right malicious assaults to poisoning of food/water supplies, from permanent solitary placement to the systemic silencing of these militants. In places like TDCJ’s Allred Unit, which Texas uses to isolate and torture political prisoners and captive journalists. They’ve employed a specialized individual, ex-military/ex-cop, to survey ‘specific inmates’ mail and book deliveries. Is it clear yet?
As the 2020 summer uprisings raged on into the late fall in some areas of the empire the Trump-Pence regime had already began laying the foundation to begin the mass warehousing of political dissidents on the outside utilizing some of the new laws mentioned above. As these protests raged on, political radicals have filled up prisons and jails around the empire. Do you all understand what this could mean for the prison movement?
The last time in movement hystory that We experienced a mass influx of militants and revolutionaries entering the prisons was during the Black Liberation era (late 1960’s into the 1970’s). Atiba Shanna, and the New Afrikan Prisoner’s Organization did a superb job illustrating the effect political prisoners entering the prisons in mass had on the already bubbling prison movement:
"As a result of the repression exercised upon the struggle taking place outside the walls in the late sixties and early seventies, leaders and activists in these struggles were captured and imprisoned. These were the political prisoners and prisoners of war. Their initial imprisonment was a result of consciously motivated political actions.
“The escalation of struggle outside the walls also resulted in a significant increase in the number of politicized prisoners already inside the walls… We can admit that the economic and socio-psychological ties that these politicized prisoners had with the oppressive system were such that they represent the most conscious element among us - the most conscious, that is, of the presently waging undeclared war between themselves and those who rule. Thus, they are the most receptive and responsive to the need to become ‘the people in uniform.’ BUT, their politicization resulted primarily from their being members of oppressed nations!” (1)
The people who are responsible for holding people in cages, and keeping us in cages, are acutely aware of the possible and very likely culture shock that is to overtake U.$. prisons that experience an influx of political radicals. Never forget that in the time frame mentioned above by Comrade Atiba, that the activities of the BLA and other similar formations eventually led to the U.$. moving to build more newer, more ‘secure,’ and high tech prisons designed to keep Our political prisoners and prisoners of war within them, and to prevent anymore political prisoners of war from arising from among the captive populace.
Therefore i concur that We’re currently experiencing such countervailing efforts by the enemy-state so that they may monitor captive militants, their networks and families (with the design to turn them into captive militants themselves) and prevent the rise of a more militant, more ideologically consolidated, more revolutionary national prison movement that is intrinsically inter-woven with a more militant, ideologically consolidated, more revolutionary outside united front.
By this point We hope it is clear that just as the prison movement and the movement on the other side of the walls have a dialectical relationship; the enemies on both sides of the wall also have a dialectical relationship, they also work together to the detriment of Our progress. As more revolutionary oriented comrades advance the national prison movement forward, repression will increase in intensity. We must begin to operate in a way that one’s struggles become all Our struggle. If comrades in one state are being overly repressed We must band together in multiple states, letting the pig power structure know “WE SEE YOU AND WE WON’T STAND FOR IT: 1LOVE 1STRUGGLE!” We must reach such a level of organization and operation, and We are on the cusp of it NOW. I encourage progressive and revolutionary captives to begin dialoging, corresponding, with each other. Seek out the means to do so. We must keep each other abreast to the local happenings from unit to unit, state to state. Comrades that is why publications like Under Lock & Key, San Francisco Bay View, and others are so important. However, We aren’t utilizing these platforms to their greatest extent if We aren’t constantly sending in reports, articles, informing other comrades on what’s happening. And We must also begin to support these institutions more effectively as a whole. I challenge all ULK subscribers to raise at least 10 stamps to mail to MIM(Prisons)! Which state can raise the most funds? TX where ya’ll at!? Those 10 stamps can go a long way towards prisoner organizing and educational efforts.
RE-BUILD TO WIN
1. Notes from a New Afrikan P.O.W. journal #1 by Atiba Shanna